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Taylor Didion Professor Grace Schwanda Music 110 30 November 2012 Dave Matthews Band and My Musical Life Life has always been about music for me. One day hasn’t gone by without a song going through my head or my radio. One thing I love about music is its ability to force emotion out of almost anyone. Sadness, anger, and happiness, among a plethora of other emotions, can be felt while listening to a particular song. No one can be sad while listening to “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. Also, it’s hard to smile when “Concrete Angel” by Martina McBride comes on the radio. I’ve used music many times to change my mood when I need it, or to help me cope with the emotion I’m feeling when I know I can’t change it. The artist I chose to write about is Dave Matthews. One thing I truly believe is that he would not be as successful without his band. For this reason, I decided to incorporate the whole band for part of my paper. Each band member is crucial to their success as a whole. They all brought new ideas to the table and though Dave was the “founding father” of Dave Matthews Band, they are all equally important. I read the book So Much to Say by Nikki Van Noy and she described the band as very collaborative, some guys would start and lyric, and maybe one guy would add a bass line. Each song went that way, with every member adding something unique and different. The reason they chose the name was because they were put on the spot when asked in the beginning of their career. That was kind of just what they came up with in the heat of the


moment. The band even had their fans help them collaborate! They would play a song at a concert that didn’t have a name yet, and tell their fans to write down good titles for the song and give it to their soundman at the end of their concert. I bet their soundman was busy at the end of the night! I believe their collaborative ways really helped to make them so successful and one of the things that has showed me how to be a music listener. I realized whenever I heard a Dave Matthews Band song there would be many other versions of it. Maybe a slower one or maybe the lyrics would be changed up a little. You never knew what you were going to hear next, and it taught me to listen closely. Van Noy talks about one man she interviewed who said every time he went to a concert it was a new experience. It was always a different show with new songs and newer renditions as well. Dave Matthews is the lead singer, for those of you who didn’t know, and he was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. However, his home town is Charlottesville, Virginia. He had to move back to South Africa when he was 10, because his father died and his mother wanted to be closer to her family. He left South Africa after he graduated high school in order to avoid the draft. Dave’s “radically tense culture of his beloved native country had a profound effect” on him, states Van Noy. I truly believe that where you come from molds the person you become in many ways, especially musically. If you grow up in the country, you’re more apt to listen to that style of music. Whereas if you grow up in the ghetto you might listen to more rap. The reason for this is because people can relate better to music about where they grew up. I grew up in many different areas around Michigan so I have a broad background of music that I enjoy listening to. Carter Beauford was ranked fifteenth out of the top one hundred greatest drummers by The Rolling Stone in 2009. He grew up around music, just like I did in a way, and loved it. His father was a professional trumpet player who introduced him to the drums when he was three


years old. His dad took him to see a Buddy Rich concert and that changed his whole life. Buddy Rich was a jazz drummer and bandleader and was named the world’s greatest drummer. After reading more about Buddy Rich I can see a huge resemblance between him and Beauford. They both are amazing drummers who started performing young; Beauford at age nine and Rich at four. Anyway, his dad saw how much he loved the drums and bought him his own. Beauford started playing professionally at age nine with “Big Nick” Nicholas’s fusion band. He graduated from Virginia’s Shenandoah Conservatory with a degree in music. LeRoi Moore was the saxophone played in The Dave Matthews Band until his unfortunate passing in 2008. His death was a tragedy that hurt the band deeply. He was injured on an all terrain vehicle that broke some ribs and punctured a lung. He died from complications on August 19th, 2008. It was three months short of his wedding day. While reminiscing about Moore, Dave said, “I was at this bar in Virginia and, on a rare occasion, Roi liked to drink a bit. I remember that he’d had quite a bit and the stage was right near the cash register because it had a counter and he [leaned] on it because standing had become somewhat of a chore. And he played the most beautiful version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ I ever heard in my whole life. That’s the day I fell in love with him, and I still love him”. I believe this is the most touching quote I’ve ever seen from Dave. It truly shows his personality, he is just a nice guy. He loves this life and the people he gets to work with and it shows in his music. LeRoi Moore was an amazing musician who died too soon. My favorite song that he played a huge part in is “#34”, which is coincidentally one of the songs that never got an actual title, like I talked about earlier with the collaboration work with their fans. His part is so rich and smooth, and he plays so flawlessly. This was one of the first songs I heard from the band. When I was young and had to choose between band, orchestra, or choir, I wanted to play the saxophone solely because of this song.


When they let me try the saxophone I couldn’t figure it out, and they handed me a violin and that’s what I choose. The saxophone is a very hard instrument and he makes it sounds so easy, I fall in love every time I hear it. Boyd Tinsley is my role model. He is the violinist for Dave Matthews Band. In February of 1991, LeRoi Moore suggested to the band that they should add a fiddle player. He was from Charlottesville just like the rest of the crew and stumbled on the violin in middle school. He signed up for strings class thinking he would be learning guitar. What he didn’t realize was that it was actually orchestra, so he thought he would try out the violin. He played classical music for a long time and then when he went to the University of Virginia he began working with people who did more modern rock, and he started going along with that. Here’s another point I would like to make about my life as a music listener. I love the versatility of instruments. I love that you can play a classical piece and call it a violin or play country and call it a fiddle. Also, I love that you can play the saxophone and it can be more jazz, like Moore used to play, or folk-rock, like Moore played when he worked with Dave Matthews. I’ve learned that music in general is very versatile and changes with the times. Everyone can find some form of music that they appreciate and it’s cool because everyone is so different. The same goes for music. Even in the same genre you can find so many different songs that you can fall in love with. Peter Greisar came into Dave Matthews Band in August, 1991. He was the keyboardist and harmonica player who came from the group, “The Basics”. LeRoi Moore and Tim Reynolds were from that band. There’s not a whole lot to say about Greisar because he only stayed in the band for about two years. He played his last show with the band at Trax on March 23rd, 1993. The song he is most known for is another one of my personal favorites, “So Much to Say”.


Speaking of Trax, this is one of the most legendary places for many of DMB’s fans. It was just a big, empty warehouse, which makes me think that their song “Warehouse” is about the music venue. The owner of Trax, Coran Capshaw, went on to become their manager and founded Red Light Management. When fans went to see a show they felt like they were just hanging out with friends even though they might not have even met the person before. I really wish I could have been around when Dave Matthews Band was just starting out. To be one of the people going to their shows at Miller’s Bar (where Dave worked, and everyone from the band has played) and seeing them play gigs on amateur night for free. It has to be surreal for some people who saw them for free and now their tickets are around $80. I also bet it’s surreal for the band, to go from nothing to everything in such a short time span. Here’s my next point in my music listening: things in the music industry change quickly. One minute someone is on top of the charts, and the next minute they drop to nothing, and are forgotten. I’ve learned to always appreciate the one-hit wonders, as well as the artists like Michael Jackson who will be forever remembered. They all work just as hard to be where they are and they all deserve to be recognized in my eyes. I will hear a great song from a band, and never hear from them again. I try to remember them because I know they probably worked really hard to get that one song out there. My dad works with a friend who is in a band, and I always try to get the word out when they’re playing somewhere local, because I know how hard that particular band works. Most of them have other jobs and are still trying to practice and do gigs on the side. They also have families to take care of and make time for. While reading my book for this project I got the feeling that Mark Roebuck was a major part of Dave Matthews’ success personally. He was the lead singer in a band called The Deal and was also a bartender at The Eastern Standard. He was a very prominent figure in the


Charlottesville music scene and heard Dave play and was very impressed. His band was signed by Warner Brothers’ Bearsville Records in the 1980’s. The band broke up after the head of the record company, Albert Grossman, had a heart attack. When he heard Dave play he said he was impressed with “all that quarter note stuff and singing at the same time”. This is awesome because I learned one of Dave’s introductions to a song and tried so hard to sing at the same time. Moral of the story, I don’t know how he does it! Roebuck liked him so much that he decided to ask Matthews for some help in writing some songs for projects that he was currently working on. They finished Dave’s song “The Song that Jane Likes” which is in reference to Dave’s sister, Jane. I had actually never even heard of this song until I read the book and when I looked it up online I realized I actually did know it. I just never knew this was the title of the song. The reason being is because the title is completely unrelated to the lyrics of the song. They just named it that because Dave’s sister actually just liked the song. Roebuck and Matthews made the band Tribe of Heaven together and I decided to look up a song. At first I didn’t know what to think of them, but the songs have grown on me. They’re nothing like DMB now, but “Imagine We Were” is something worth listening to from the two of them. It’s acoustic, just their voices and their guitars. It actually sounds very tribal when listened to closely. Technology really helped The Dave Matthew’s Band become successful. When they started playing people would record them on tapes. My book made a big deal about this and I didn’t really understand why until I thought about it for a while. This was really the only form of recording the fans had to be able to show their friends or try to get their hands on if they couldn’t get to the concert. Many people would trade tapes with each other to build their own collections. Then, the internet came. People thought it was just a fad that would go away, but they were completely wrong. In October of 1993, Minaret’s Digest, which is DMB’s online community,


was formed. Although many people didn’t have the internet, it still made information way more attainable. It helped fans find where the next concerts would be along with telling them about new songs and other things that the fans would be dying to know at that point. When fans could easily get their information about where the band would be, their concerts would be filling up faster and with more people attending. Technology can be a great thing when it’s used in the right way. It’s one of the main sources for my music listening. I mentioned this in a discussion, but Pandora is a big part of my music life. I have only been using it for about a year, but now I don’t know what I would do without it. Before I had Pandora on my smart phone I used (and still use, just not as often) Youtube to find newer and better songs. I loved being able to see the artists playing and try to feel the emotions they were trying to portray. Without technology, I believe music would stay in the local areas where the bands were from. Without technology Dave Matthews Band would most likely not have gotten as big as they did and most of their fans would just be the local people of Charlottesville who heard their little side gigs at bars. Even if they grew out of the town, many people wouldn’t know when their concerts were unless it was by word of mouth. Dave Matthew’s Band released their first album on November 9th, 1993. Through technology many fans found out about the release and the stores ended up having a midnight release because of the popularity. The album’s name was Remember Two Things and some of the songs on the album are “Satellite”, “Tripping Billies”, and “Christmas Song”. They ended up selling over 1,200 copies in their first night. It was in high demand for a long time. There are so many times throughout reading this book that I just wished I could have been there. This is definitely one of those times. I couldn’t imagine being one of the fans waiting outside to get your


first official recording of your favorite band. Although there were many tapes you could get from other fans, this was your first officially made album. My favorite song from the Dave Matthews Band has to be “Ants Marching”. It’s filled with so much passion and always makes me want to sing and dance. It also makes me feel like going to town on my violin. The violin solo in that piece, as well as the sax solo, is so intense and amazing it makes me want to cry sometimes because I get so overwhelmed and I love it so much. Other great songs from them are “#34”, “Baby Blue”, “Everyday”, and the song that everyone knows, “Crash Into Me”. It’s hard to narrow it down like this, but those are the songs that are played most on my iTunes. My dad is probably my biggest influence in music listening. He loves many different styles and genres of music, and so do I. I remember growing up riding in the car with my dad and hearing all types of music, from hip hop to folk-rock to jazz. I always heard something different. It was always funny when a song would come on and I would start singing along, a lot of people wouldn’t understand how I would know such an old song that hasn’t been played in years. I never knew how to respond, until I started realizing that it was because my dad would play it in the car. Also, when I decided to play the violin, my dad was so involved in it and got me a rental violin right away. He came to every concert and always pushed me (in a good way) to better myself. When I got into high school he bought me my very own violin because he realized I was serious about it. At my final concert I got the scholarship for orchestra and he cried. Whenever I felt like giving up on a song or measure I remembered how much he cared about this and pushed forward.


My great grandma loved jazz, and it was always playing when I went to visit her. My dad’s mom always loved Elvis while my mom’s mom really liked more of the rock artists. She was a biker babe and hippie in her younger years, and I don’t think she ever really grew out of it! My mom always used to love country music, which is my least favorite genre, but she’s grown to listen to top 40, which is more up my alley. She also has a thing with classical music lately, which I never used to like until she forced it upon me. Now I love it. My dad is obviously into folk-rock, like me, and more alternative music. 300 years ago most of my heritage traces back to Germany. I’m a mix of many ethnicities but I believe this one is the most prominent. After that I’m Dutch. My grandma has sang many Dutch songs while cooking or cleaning around the house and I finally get the chance to look one up. One song I remember from my childhood is “Hansje Pansje Kevertje”, or also better known as “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”. I never understood the words until I realized I actually knew the song. She always would try to teach us Dutch words for things she was cooking, but I never really caught on. I should really try to figure them out now that I’m older. In five years I believe I will still be listening to most of the same styles of music that I do now. The reason is because five years ago I was listening to the same things mostly. The only things that have changed is that I’ve toned down the hard rap music and added more acoustic styles of songs. About five years ago I was in high school and I believe a lot of the reasons for my music taste was because I wanted to be cool in front of my friends. They would laugh at me when I tried to listen to the things I really loved, so I hid it all. I pretended to love the stupid music they listened to. When I graduated and went to college I lost a lot of friends, but I gained a lot of music. I actually think I’d rather have my music sometimes! It doesn’t try to fight with me or ditch me at a party!


In twenty-five years I believe my music listening will be very different from today. I will probably be completely done with the rap/hip-hop scene and even more into the folk-rock or acoustic styles of music. I really have a love of 90’s music so I believe I will still be listening to that and maybe some more classical music when I want to relax like my mom. Music is a big part of my life. I’ve played my violin for a wedding, a funeral, and many parties in between. Especially now that we’re around Christmas time I love hearing and playing the songs of the season. If there was a world with no music I wouldn’t want to be in it. Life would just be completely incomplete. I’m excited to see all the new artist and music that comes in the future. Who knows, maybe we’ll all be able to listen to music in our head without needing an iPod or our smart phones. I’ve really enjoyed learning so much about my favorite band and looking back on my life as a music listener.


Works Cited Castiglioni, Bernhard. Drummerworld. Web Air, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2012. <http://www.drummerworld.com/drummers/Buddy_Rich.html>. Mama Lisa's World. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2012. <http://www.mamalisa.com/?p=971&t=ec&c=139>. Van Noy, Nikki. So Much To Say. New York: Touchstone: Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print. Wikipedia. N.p., 27 Oct. 2012. Web. 30 Nov. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LeRoi_Moore>.

Dave Matthews  

A critical look into my life as a music listener and what I learned from my favorite band.

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